When first starting a business, the dream is to get everyone and their neighbor to be your customer. You hope to have developed a product that will take the world by storm and everyone will want it. In reality, however, it’s extremely rare to have a product with universal appeal. You may have a fantastic product, but not everyone is going to need or want it.
There will be a specific sector of the population that loves and/or needs your product, while the rest will have other needs they need help with. Because of this fact, it doesn’t make sense to spend your marketing dollars advertising to people who will never become your customers. Instead, your marketing efforts will be better spent by first defining your target market, then advertising to that group as they are most likely to become your customers.
In today’s post, we look at the process of defining your target market. Defining your target market hones your focus and ensures you are getting the best return from your advertising efforts.
What is a Target Market?
As mentioned in our last post, a target market is made up of anyone who would be interested in your product or service. It is your potential buyer pool and most of your customers will come from here.
A target market is not a random sampling of people, but rather a group united by certain characteristics. These characteristics might be demographically related, geographically related, or even linked by specific psychological traits. In defining your target market, it is imperative to examine what factor or combination of factors unite your specific audience to make them a cohesive group.
Defining Your Target Market – The Steps
Defining your target market may sound daunting, but it’s not as hard as it sounds. The key is to think outside the box and examine your products and offerings from all angles. Here are some steps to help get you started.
The key to defining your target market is to think outside the box and examine your products and offerings from all angles. Click To Tweet
Define Your Current Market
The first step in any evaluation is to gather information. The same is true when you are defining your target market.
This means that you need to begin by gathering information about your current customers. Begin by defining the demographics of your current customer base. Common statistics include:
• Age range
• Are they single, married, have kids, etc.
• Where they live (rural vs urban, home vs. apartment, etc.)
• Income range
This information helps to give you a basic idea of who is interested in your products or services. This helps you narrow down who you will be targeting, as it doesn’t make sense to run ads for elderly stair lifts on mediums used mostly by teenagers.
Evaluate the Market Potential of Your Product
Now that you know who is currently using your product, it’s time to put on your creative hat and think outside the box. Is there another segment of the population that you are missing?
For example, say you have developed a line of educational children’s toys. The obvious market for your products would be parents with kids, grandparents, and the kids themselves. But is that your only market? What about elderly people or people with Alzheimer’s? Some of your toys might help them with their cognitive functions. What about pet owners. If you have developed some tactile balls for infants, those toys might also be used by dog owners.
When evaluating your products, try to think of how your products could be used outside of their obvious function. Try to come up with as many ideas as possible. After you are done brainstorming, evaluate the list to see if your new markets are feasible. From the example above, a handful of dog owners may use your infant toys for their dogs, but after close examination it might not be safe to let dogs chew on them. So you can eliminate this group from your marketing efforts.
Take a Look at the Competition
Another step in defining your target market is to check out what the competition is doing. You don’t want to copy what they are doing, but you can gain insights on your target market.
If your competitor is on social media, take a look at the comments people are posting. If you are seeing multiple comments about the same topic, re-evaluate your own products to ensure its meeting customers’ needs.
For example, say you see numerous comments about how expensive a product is, and you have a similar product. These comments could encourage you to reexamine your pricing strategy, or it could be a justification to say that your price is justified as it does solves your customer’s problems in more ways.
Final Thoughts on Defining Your Target Market
Once you have gathered all the information, a clear picture should emerge about which groups are the most appropriate to target. It may not be who you thought at the beginning, or it may be verification that you are doing all the right things. In either case, once you know who you are going to target, you can then work on the best ways to get the message out to those groups.
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Jolene is a strong operations, compliance, and paralegal manager. She also loves to research and write about business as well as personal topics that help others.